2023 was another good year for horror on the big screen. Sure, there were a few duds along the way, but movies like Evil Dead Rise, Talk to Me, and Scream VI showed that the genre still has what it takes to wow audiences and win big at the box office. It’s a great time to be a horror fan, and from the looks of it, this modern golden age isn’t going to end any time soon.
If all you saw this year were the big theatrical releases, you barely scratched the surface of the genre’s wonderful slate. Hell, even if you tried to catch the best indie movies you still probably missed a few gems. A bunch of great horror films flew under the radar in 2023, so no matter how much you watched, there’s always room to dig a little bit deeper.
And if you’re wondering what else you should check out, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve compiled a list of five of my favorite 2023 horror movies that most people missed. So sit back, relax, and let’s add a few more films to your watch list.
First up, we have Moon Garden, my favorite horror movie of 2023. It’s a surrealist dark fantasy about a young girl who falls down the stairs and slips into a coma. While her body remains on earth, her mind is transported to a bizarre world that feels a bit like the Further from the Insidious franchise. To get back to her family, the girl has to traverse this strange land without being captured by Teeth, a terrifying monster that wants to feed on her tears.
I could probably write a whole book about all the reasons I love Moon Garden, but I’ll limit myself to two main points. First, the monster in this film is fantastic. It’s as if the Chatterer from Hellraiser was played by Javier Botet, and it’s just as awesome as it sounds. Secondly, this movie is a jaw-droppingly beautiful expressionist image on the beauty of love and family, so it’s way more than just a fun scarefest. Moon Garden has a great message as well, so in my book, it’s the best horror film of 2023.
If you’re more into the dark side of love, then birth/rebirth will be right up your alley. It’s a drama-horror reimagining of Frankenstein. The film follows two women, a nurse named Celie (Judy Reyes) and a doctor named Rose (Marin Ireland), whose worlds unexpectedly collide after a devastating tragedy. One day, Celie’s young daughter dies unexpectedly. When Rose comes across her body, she absconds with it and returns home. See, Rose is obsessed with trying to reanimate the dead, so naturally, the child is a perfect candidate for her experiments. When Celie learns of Rose’s actions, she decides to move in with the doctor to help keep her daughter alive.
From there, birth/rebirth becomes a “How far would you go?” kind of story with a bit of a twist that’s out of this world. Most notably, the acting is fantastic. And the way the movie handles its central moral dilemma is super intriguing. That combination makes this one of the best horror films of 2023, but I have to warn you, it’s not for everyone. birth/rebirth is a very slow burn. There’s barely any horror in it until the last 10-15 minutes or so. It plays more like a drama for the vast majority of its runtime. If you’re looking for chills and thrills every few scenes, this isn’t the film for you. But if you’re okay with a character-driven drama horror about a fascinating moral dilemma, I think you’re going to love it.
If you’re a hardcore horror fan, you probably know about Shudder. It’s the best horror streaming service around, and it puts out some amazing original films. In fact, birth/rebirth is a Shudder original. Shudder is also the streaming service also gave us When Evil Lurks, one of the most acclaimed horror movies of 2023.
Unfortunately, not all of their films get the love they deserve. Take From Black, for instance. As of this writing, it only has a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes (although to be fair, the audience score is 86%). In my opinion, it’s one of Shudder’s best original movies. From Black is about a grieving woman named Cora (Anna Camp) who performs a dangerous occult ritual to get her son back from the dead. As you can probably guess, she gets a bit more than she bargained for.
On paper, that might sound like something you’ve seen a million times before, but the execution makes up for that lack of originality. Seriously, everything about this film, from the acting to the demon, is absolutely top-notch, so if you’re looking for an underrated 2023 horror gem, you can’t go wrong with From Black.
Sorry About the Demon
A list like this would be incomplete without at least one horror comedy. To fill that spot, I’ve chosen yet another Shudder original, Sorry About the Demon. The film follows Will (Jon Michael Simpson) who has to find a new home after breaking up with Amy (Paige Evans). As luck would have it, the place he chooses is haunted by a demon that wants a human sacrifice.
Right from the opening scene, this movie seamlessly blends its laughs and its scares, managing to maintain that nearly perfect balance right up until the credits begin to roll. On top of that, Sorry About the Demon also features an engaging and sympathetic lead character, so it’s pretty much the complete package. It’s creepy, it’s hilarious, and you’ll actually care about the story. After the smash hit M3GAN, this is the second-best horror comedy of 2023.
So far, every film on this list has had a good mix of scares and storytelling substance, but this last entry is just straight-up fun. Creepy Crawly is set in a hotel in March of 2020, and the guests and staff are under attack by a centipede-like monster that can hide inside of people and possess them.
If you’re a fan of monster movies, you’re really going to enjoy Creepy Crawly. The creature itself is awesome, and its ability to control its hosts and hop from person to person gives the film an almost Carpenter-esque sense of tension and suspense. Creepy Crawly makes for a super fun creature feature that’s chock-full of awesome horror action. Even though it doesn’t quite have the emotional or thematic heft of the other entries on this list, it’s still one of my favorite genre movies of 2023.